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RMT to hold strike ballots in Scotland over pay row

The RMT is holding strike ballots of its members on ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper, after the union had rejected a pay offer as ‘derisory’. ASLEF has already warned ScotRail that it is seeking the authority of its Executive Committee for a similar ballot, again after pay talks broke down. ScotRail is struggling with a shortage of drivers and has axed an estimated 600 trains from its timetables each day because it says not enough drivers are volunteering for overtime and rest day working. The RMT has labelled ScotRail’s latest pay offer  of 9.3 per cent over three years as ‘insulting’, because the union said it is ‘well below’ inflation. The union has also pointed to this year’s 6.7 per cent increase awarded to members of the Scottish Parliament. ScotRail’s offer is understood to have been 2 per cent from April this year and the same amount in April 2025 and 2026, plus a further one per cent in January for the next three years. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ’It is ludicrous that the MSPs ultimately responsible for running these services were taking bumper pay rises whilst subjecting workers to significant hardship during a cost-of-living crisis.’ Both operators are nationalised, and are run by companies owned by the Scottish Government. ScotRail customer operations director Phil Campbell said: ‘We’re disappointed the RMT is balloting its members for industrial action following the pay offer made last week and we encourage members to vote to reject it. We recognise the hard work of our colleagues and the cost of living challenges faced by families across the country and hope that we can come to an agreement on pay which reflects this, as well as providing value for money for taxpayers. ‘We want to resolve this matter with trade unions and will remain fully committed to further discussions.’ Caledonian Sleeper managing director Kathryn Darbandi said she was ‘disappointed’. The ballot will run from 18 July to 8 August. Meanwhile, GWR has warned that it will be running reduced services on Sunday, again because of a shortage of train crew. Main line services are likely to be cut back, while some branch line trains will also be affected. GWR said engineering work in Oxfordshire and the Severn Tunnel means more train crews are required than usual, while sickness and the final of the Euros is likely to reduce the number of staff who are willing to work overtime.

Royal Mail set to abandon trains, report claims

Royal Mail is planning to transfer its last movements of mail from trains to its road fleet. The main reason is understood to be the high cost of electric traction. The change, which is set to take place this October, would mark the end of almost two centuries of mail trains. One of the early Acts of Parliament about railways, passed in 1838, obliged the companies to carry mail bags. There was a brief gap after Travelling Post Offices, which were mobile sorting offices, were withdrawn in November 2003. The Post Office underground railway in London was closed at the same time. However simple tenders, carrying trolleys of mail bags, returned to rail on a couple of routes soon afterwards, and have been running until now. It is also understood that Royal Mail will sell the Class 325 fleet, which has bodies designed to carry trolleys on board.

Royal Mail set to abandon trains

Royal Mail is planning to transfer its last movements of mail from trains to its road fleet. The main reason is understood to be the high cost of electric traction. The change, which is set to take place this October, would mark the end of almost two centuries of mail trains. One of the early Acts of Parliament about railways, passed in 1838, obliged the companies to carry mail bags. There was a brief gap after Travelling Post Offices, which were mobile sorting offices, were withdrawn in November 2003. The Post Office underground railway in London was closed at the same time. However simple tenders, carrying trolleys of mail bags, returned to rail on a couple of routes soon afterwards, and have been running until now. It is also understood that Royal Mail will sell the Class 325 fleet, which has bodies designed to carry trolleys on board.

Royal Mail set to abandon specialised fleet

Royal Mail is planning to transfer its last movements of mail from its own trains to a mixture of road and third-party rail. The main reason is understood to be the high cost of electric traction. The change, which is set to take place this October, would mark the end of almost two centuries of mail trains. One of the early Acts of Parliament about railways, passed in 1838, obliged the companies to carry mail bags. There was a brief gap after Travelling Post Offices, which were mobile sorting offices, were withdrawn in November 2003. The Post Office underground railway in London was closed at the same time. However simple tenders, carrying trolleys of mail bags, returned to rail on a couple of routes soon afterwards, and have been running until now. It is also understood that Royal Mail will sell the Class 325 fleet, which has bodies designed to carry trolleys on board.

Royal Mail to abandon specialised fleet

Updated 12 JulyRoyal Mail is planning to transfer its last movements of mail from its own trains to a mixture of road and third-party rail. The reasons are said to be the cost of electric traction and the increasing difficulty of maintaining the 30-year old Class 325 Royal Mail fleet. The change is set to take place this October. Mail has been carried by train since the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830, although specialised mail trains came a little later. There was a brief gap after the last Travelling Post Offices, which were mobile sorting offices, were withdrawn in November 2003. The Post Office underground railway in London was closed at the same time. However simple tenders, carrying trolleys of mail bags, returned to rail on a couple of routes soon afterwards, and have been running until now.

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Three more transport ministers named

Three more ministers have been appointed at the Department for Transport to assist transport secretary Louise Haigh, following last week’s general election. All three new arrivals will be Parliamentary under-secretaries. They are Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, Mike Kane, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, and Simon Lightwood, MP for Wakefield and Rothwell. Ms Greenwood, who was first elected in 2010, has served on the Transport Select Committee and was also a shadow transport minister under opposition leader Ed Miliband between 2011 and 2015. The appointments follow the news that Network Rail chair Peter Hendy has become a minister of state at the DfT. The detailed responsibilities of each minister have not yet been published, but one DfT announcement has referred to Lord Hendy as the rail minister. Paul Tuohy from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘We welcome the appointment of these able and passionate new ministers to the Department for Transport team. We’re particularly pleased to see Sir Peter Hendy, who brings a lot of external experience, and Lillian Greenwood, former chair of the transport select committee, given prominent roles within the department and look forward to working with them. ‘This new team must, in the words of secretary of state for transport, “move fast and fix things” by addressing the future of rail capacity and long-term bus funding reform as a priority.’

ScotRail cuts timetables after unions reject pay offer

ScotRail is reducing the number of trains it runs each day because it says not enough drivers are volunteering to work overtime or on rest days. The Scottish Government’s operator had already cut Sunday services and closed four stations on that day, but it now says reductions will be introduced on all routes from tomorrow (Wednesday), although the times of first and last trains will be unchanged. ScotRail is also facing the possibility of a new round of strikes or overtime bans, after the drivers’ union ASLEF warned that it is asking its Executive Committee to approve a ballot for industrial action over pay. ScotRail says it has been in discussions over pay with ASLEF, RMT, TSSA, and Unite, and a  formal pay offer ‘in line with the Scottish Government’s public sector pay policy’ was made on 5 July. However, this was rejected by the unions. The operator said it is recruiting 160 drivers a year, but some rest day working and overtime is still needed to run a full timetable, which is often the case with other operators as well. ScotRail service delivery director Mark Ilderton said: ’We are very sorry to customers for the disruption to services. We know that customers want certainty and reliability, which is why we are introducing a temporary timetable, in place of late-notice cancellations. ‘We are operating services which the vast majority of customers use and are still using all the available trains in our fleet so customers can continue to travel. ‘We want to resolve the pay dispute with the trade unions and remain fully committed to further discussions.’

Conservatives choose shadow transport secretary

Tory leader Rishi Sunak has named the members of his shadow cabinet, in the wake of the Labour landslide in last week’s election. The new shadow transport secretary is Helen Whately, the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, who was social care minister in the last government. The last Conservative transport secretary Mark Harper was not a candidate for transport shadow because he lost his seat, while his rail minister Huw Merriman had announced his resignation in May, and did not stand in this election. On the Labour side, the new transport secretary Louise Haigh, who held the shadow post while Labour was in opposition, will be assisted by Peter Hendy, who is a former London transport commissioner and now the chair of Network Rail. He had also been leading the preparations for the Railway 200 festival next year. Lord Hendy has been named as minister of state at the DfT, and is set to speak for the government on transport matters in the Lords, but his precise responsibilities have yet to be announced. The Network Rail website has not yet acknowledged Lord Hendy’s new position in government, and still shows him as chair and board member.

Breaking: Peter Hendy appointed as transport minister

Network Rail chair Lord Hendy CBE has been named as a minister of state in the Department for Transport. Peter Hendy, 71, started his career in public transport in 1975 as a graduate trainee with London Transport, having gained a degree in Economics and Geography at the University of Leeds. In 1989 he became managing director of CentreWest London Buses in 1989, under London Transport ownership. Five years later he led CentreWest through a management buyout. After the company was taken over by FirstGroup in 1997, he became Deputy Director UK Bus, at FirstGroup. He returned to London Transport’s successor Transport for London in 2001, when he was appointed managing director of Surface Transport. He became a CBE and commissioner of transport in 2006. He was responsible for transport during the 2012 Olympics, and was widely praised for the effectiveness of the arrangements, gaining a knighthood as a result. He was appointed chair of Network Rail in 2015 and received a life peerage in 2022. He had most recently been leading the arrangements for the Railway 200 festival next year. His move to the Department for Transport will be a change of direction, as he will now be helping to oversee Network Rail and in due course Great British Railways, on behalf of the government.

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